The Grand Tour

Hello everyone! Caroline here. As you may or may not know, both Kaycie and I are heading off this week on some wonderful travel adventures. Kaycie is headed to NYC with her friend Emmali, while I’m off to Europe for a couple weeks with my mom. I haven’t talked much about my upcoming travels yet, but here’s what my trip has in store:


I’m starting my journey in London. While the main reason for choosing London was a special exhibition at the British Museum that I simply cannot miss (this is the usual reason people go to London, right?), I’m very excited to see everything else London has to offer. I’ve been to London twice before as part of study abroad programs during my undergrad, but there are still a few places we’re going to visit that I haven’t seen yet – including tours at the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London.


From London, we’re flying to Rome. Incidentally, we will be in Rome ON MY BIRTHDAY, which makes me very excited. I’ve been to Rome a few times before as well; it’s tied with Paris for my favorite city in the world, and I’m so looking forward to being there again. It’s okay to eat gelato for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner if it’s my birthday, right? My other goal in Rome is to see as much Michelangelo as possible!


After a few days in Rome, we board our cruise ship! This will be my second-ever cruise, my first Princess cruise, my first cruise with my mom, and my first Mediterranean cruise.


Our first port is Naples, where we will be able to go on excursions to Pompeii and Capri. Again, I’ve been to these places before, but it’s been years and I’m so excited to see them again!


We were originally supposed to go to Turkey on this cruise, but the cruise line cancelled our stops in Turkey due to the unrest there. I’m disappointed, but I’m glad they are careful about our safety. Montenegro is one of the ports that was added when Turkey was removed. I’ve never been to Montenegro before, and I’m eager to see what this beautiful country has to offer!


We have four stops in Greece: Corfu, Crete, Mykonos, and Athens. I’ve been to Athens before, but I’ll be a first-timer at the others! These destinations look beautiful, and I’m looking forward to experiencing the culture, people, food, history, and architecture at each of these ports. From beaches and quaint towns to churches and ancient ruins, Greece has a lot to offer. Our cruise concludes in Athens, where my mom and I will spend an extra day or two to see some essentials, like the Acropolis, the Agora, the New Acropolis Museum, the Arch of Hadrian, and more. And then we head back to the US!

While I’ve been to several of these places before, I am ALWAYS open to suggestions of things to see, places to go, and foods to eat, so please feel free to comment with your recommendations.

Keep Up!

On another note, we will continue to post here on At Home & Abroad while we are gone (with huge thanks to Kaycie for keeping things on track while I’m off the grid in Europe). Also be sure to keep up with our Instagram – there are certain to be tons of great posts and stories as we travel!

Written by Caroline Larson.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Caroline Larson.

Throwback Thursday: Italian Grand Tour

Today’s Throwback Thursday is going way, way back – to when I was in high school. Ten years ago this summer, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Italy for about two weeks. My high school AP art history teacher organized a couple students to go as part of an EF tour, and my mom came along as well, which made it very fun.

Sorrento, Italy flags
The World Cup was going on during our trip to Italy, so the entire country was decked out in their national colors.

Italy has been on my mind a lot lately – not only because I’ll be back there in just over a week, but because of the tragic earthquake earlier this week. My heart aches for the lives lost, the friends and family they left behind, and those who have lost so much. I fell in love with Italy, starting on that first trip there ten years ago. I’m sure I’ll feature each of these cities in their own right one day, but for today, here’s a quick overview of the fabulous trip I took in 2006:


Rome is one of my favorite places in the entire world. It was a whirlwind of history, art, and architecture. In just a couple days, we squeezed in the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s, the Colosseum and Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Capitoline Hill, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, and more. We also took a quick trip to Villa d’Este in Tivoli, which was absolutely beautiful.

Capri & Sorrento

Capri, Italy

In Southern Italy, we stayed in Sorrento and took a day trip to Capri. Sorrento was simply beautiful. It’s a smaller city right on the coast, which was perfect for heading to Capri. I’m excited to go to Capri again – it’s honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. We even took a boat tour around the island.

Road in Sorrento, Italy


We spent the majority of our time on Sicily in Taormina. This is a fun town with lovely shops, beautiful views, and an amazing ancient Greek theatre that overlooks the shore. By the way, I HIGHLY recommend Sicilian cannoli. Life changing.


Prato della Valle, Padua

We spent less than a full day in Padua, but we saw the University of Padua, where Galileo taught. We also walked through the Prato della Valle, with its canal and ring of statues.


Florence Piazza della Signoria

Where do I start? The Duomo is stunning, Ghiberti’s doors on the baptistery are sublime, Michelangelo’s David is breathtaking, Piazza della Signoria is delightful, and Santa Croce is exquisite.


Cathedral in Pisa, Italy

While in Florence, we took a day trip to Pisa. Of course it was fun to see the Leaning Tower, but we also got to tour the cathedral and baptistery.


Venice, Italy Grand Canal

Ah, Venice. We only spent just over a day in Venice (it was truly a whirlwind tour through Italy), but we managed to visit St. Mark’s Basilica, spend some time in Piazza San Marco, watch a glass-blowing demonstration, and take a gondola ride. Sadly, our gondolier insisted that gondoliers only sing in the movies.


Cathedral in Milan, Italy

Milan was another very quick stop – we arrived there in the afternoon, spent the evening in the city, and left the country the next morning. On our one night there, we went to the Milan Cathedral. Tours inside had already stopped for the day, but we got lucky and were able to climb up to the top of the cathedral and walk along the roof. If you want an up-close look at Gothic architecture and a great view of Milan, I recommend this.

All I can say is I’m beyond excited to go back to Italy in a week and a half!

Written by Caroline Larson.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Caroline Larson. Allow me to apologize for some the photos in this article – my 16-year-old self wasn’t the best photographer. I like to think I’ve improved somewhat in the last ten years!

The Grove and Farmers Market

I have been to Los Angeles several times in my life. Usually when I find myself in Southern California, I tend to visit the same places over and over again. However, when my mom and I were planning our latest trip, we decided we wanted to do things that were off the beaten path (for us at least).

We basically had two days in California and two days of driving. (I guess that’s what you get when you plan a trip during finals week.) Our first day was spent visiting Balboa Island, which I wrote about a couple weeks ago. Our second day in California was spent mostly in LA, ending with Adele Live at the Staples Center!

Our first stop of the day was at the Getty Villa. If you are a returning reader, you know how much we love the Getty Museums here on At Home & Abroad. Last time I was in California, Caroline took me for my first time (which you can read about here). I loved it so much that I told my mom it was something we HAD to do while we were in town! It was the first time visiting for my mom, and she was blown away. It really is an amazing museum.

After the museum in the morning, we were both starved. We wanted to get a little closer to the concert venue because we had to pick up our tickets at the box office before the show. We ended up googling “Places to eat in Los Angeles.” We found a page about a shopping area called The Grove at Farmer’s Market and decided to give it a shot.

It turned out to be super fun. The Grove is a shopping district similar to many shopping malls. We found a wide range of stores there; most of them were more upscale stores. This is not a place to shop if you are looking for bargains, but it is fun to visit either way!

The Grove--Los Angeles, California

There were several places to eat and we ended up going to Cheesecake Factory (my favorite restaurant)! As usual, it was amazing. The restaurant was on the second level of the building, and we lucked out and got a table on the outdoor balcony. We enjoyed a great meal with a great view.

After our meal, we walked around the shops. In the center of the stores there is a little park area where live bands perform periodically. We also walked through the Farmers Market, which was the best part in my opinion.

The Grove--Los Angeles, California

Farmers Market is a historic landmark in LA and has been in operation since July of 1934. Unlike most farmers markets, which are held only at certain times of the year or certain days of the week, Farmers Market is open 7 days a week and is a permanent structure.

Farmers Market--Los Angeles, California

We found a lot of fun things there – it reminded me a little bit of the farmers market I visited in Paris last fall! There were lots of places to eat in the market as well that I would love to try, from Indian food to Brazilian BBQ. We had fun just walking around and looking at what the vendors were selling.

I would definitely recommend spending an afternoon at The Grove and Farmers Market. I know that next time I am in the LA area, I will be stopping back again!


Written by Kaycie Jordan.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Kaycie Jordan.

Throwback Thursday: Walt Disney World

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my trip to Orlando, Florida (specifically my visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter). Today, I am going to be sharing the rest of my Orlando adventures with a throwback to my first (and so far only) trip to Disney World!

Walt Disney World--Magic Kingdom
1st timers at Walt Disney World

1st timers at Walt Disney World

In case you missed my last post, I went to Orlando during my junior year of high school to compete at an international competition for DECA (a business club I joined in my sophomore year). Our main reason for being there was to compete, but we also had some free time in Orlando. Obviously Disney World was at the top of the list of things to do.

Because of competition times, we only had two days in the park, but we were able to do almost all of the highlights. We hit 4 parks (2 per day): Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Magic Kingdom.

Walt Disney World--Animal Kingdom

The first park we went to was Epcot. Besides Magic Kingdom, I would have to say this is my favorite. There are a few rides in the park, but the main event is the World Showcase. We went through the showcase faster than I would have liked (we walked through the whole park in about 2 hours).

As you walk along the path, different sections are designed to look like different countries around the world. There are fun little shops and restaurants in each “country,” and I loved being able to see all the different cultures from around the world in on spot. It is different from your normal theme park full of rides, but I found it completely delightful!

I also loved all of the flower sculptures. Every spring, Epcot hosts the International Flower and Garden Festival. I loved looking for my favorite Disney characters created from flowers throughout the park.

Walt Disney World--Epcot
Here we are with Woody and Lotso from Toy Story 3!

The same day we went to Epcot, we also went to Hollywood Studios. This park hosts some of my favorite rides like the Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. I am pretty sure we went on each of those rides about three times in a row. If you’re not familiar with the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, you take a thrilling journey through the streets of LA in a limo while jamming to the tunes of Aerosmith. It is awesome!

Walt Disney World--Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
The whole crew…and a few random people on the sides!🙂

Hollywood Studios is also home to Toy Story Mania. I was super excited for that ride because it had just opened and it was my first time ever riding it! I loved it! I never miss it when I am at one of the Disney Parks.

Walt Disney World--Hollywood Studios--Toy Story Mania

On our second day, we squeezed in the Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. There were a lot of things I wanted to do in Animal Kingdom that we didn’t have time for (like the Safari). But we stopped in really quickly because we were all dying to ride Expedition Everest.

Of all the rides that are exclusive to Disney World, Expedition Everest was definitely my favorite. I guess we lucked out and nothing was very busy, because this was another ride that we went on a few times in a row! We also stopped and got a picture with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, and that was really all we did in Animal Kingdom.

Walt Disney World--Animal Kingdom--Tigger

Out of all of the parks we went to, we spent the most time at Magic Kingdom. You gotta love the classics! I must say that I think Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain are better in California. I would say that everything else is pretty equal between both parks. I would also say that while all of the parks at Disney World have that Disney touch, Magic Kingdom is the most…well, magical!

Walt Disney World--Magic Kingdom

The firework show at the end of the night was incredible! We didn’t want to leave. It was fun to be able to travel with a school group because it was so different from my normal vacations, and we made some great memories. Next time I would do things a little differently, starting with more time in the parks. But our quick trip was definitely a great preview!

Walt Disney World--Magic Kingdom--Cinderella's Castle



Written by Kaycie Jordan.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Kaycie Jordan.


Florida Georgia Line In Concert

Alright, it’s time for me to make a confession – I like some Country music. My brothers are appalled by this, but some of the songs are just so catchy. Honestly, I think Country music is perfect for turning it up, rolling down the windows, and going for a drive during the summer. The song that started my foray into Country music is “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line. Florida Georgia Line was in Salt Lake on their Dig Your Roots Tour a couple weeks ago, and I was lucky enough to get tickets!

Florida Georgia Line Tour
No concert is complete without a selfie! Sorry it is blurry – it was getting dark.

The concert was at USANA Amphitheatre, and my mom and I had a blast. I’ll be honest – I didn’t even know before we arrived who was performing with Florida Georgia Line. While I have taken a liking to a few other Country artists (like Sam Hunt, Hunter Hayes, and Luke Bryan), I haven’t acquired a taste for all Country music…and I wasn’t a huge fan of all of the other artists who performed that evening. Suffice it to say that Florida Georgia Line was the real highlight for me.

Usana Amphitheatre Utah
Before the concert started…

USANA Amphitheatre is the perfect venue for a late summer concert. I got lawn seats, so we brought a blanket to lay on the grass. It was lovely to just enjoy the atmosphere and the summer evening with my mom. The mountains are one of my favorite parts of living in Utah, and the amphitheatre gives you a great view to watch the sunset against the mountains. It was getting dark by the time Florida Georgia Line came on, which made it really fun to see their stage settings – complete with colored screens, lights, and FIRE.

My favorite moment of the night (except, perhaps, my initial excitement when Florida Georgia Line took the stage) was when they played “HOLY.” This is one of their newest singles, and I loved hearing it live. It’s so fun to be able to sing along with an artist as they perform!

Florida Georgia Line Tour
I found their tour trucks!

It was such a fun night, and I’ll definitely be back at USANA for more great music soon!

Written by Caroline Larson.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Caroline Larson.

Throwback Thursday: The Huntington

One of my favorite places to visit in Southern California is the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Although my family lived in Southern California when I was younger and we’ve visited many times over the years, I somehow didn’t visit the Huntington until 2012, when I went there to present a paper at a research conference. I was stunned by the collections and the gardens, and I’ve visited several times since then.

The last time I visited the Huntington was in March 2015 (and I’m clearly overdue for return visit!). My mom and I took a quick trip to the LA area to see a special exhibition at the Getty Center, and we spent a lovely day at the Huntington while we were in the area. The Huntington has three main parts: the library, the art collections, and the botanical gardens.

The Library

Huntington Library
The main library exhibition building

The Library collection includes a number of impressive objects: the Gutenberg Bible, an early manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare’s First Folio, Thoreau’s manuscript of Walden, and more. I love exploring the Library exhibitions, both permanent and temporary.

The Art Collections

Huntington - Pinkie by Thomas Lawrence
Sarah Barrett Moulton: Pinkie, Thomas Lawrence, 1794

Surprise! The art collections are my favorite part of the Huntington. The first time I visited, I was honestly floored by the collections. I really love the European collection. One of the biggest stars is Gainsborough’s Blue Boy, but they also have fantastic works by Reynolds, Constable, Turner, Rogier van der Weyden, Houdon, Boucher, Canaletto, Fragonard, and more.

Huntington - JMW Turner
One of my favorite paintings at the Huntington — The Grand Canal: Scene – a Street in Venice, JMW Turner, ca. 1837

While European art is always my favorite, the Huntington has a great American art collection as well. John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Gilbert Stuart, John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, Edward Hopper… The list goes on. They also have some really lovely Greene & Greene furniture.

American Gallery Huntington
The entrance to The Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art

The Botanical Gardens

Rose Gardens Huntington

Gardens aren’t my forte, but the ones at the Huntington are amazing. They have 12 different gardens, representing various garden styles and plants from around the world – Desert, Chinese, Japanese, Rose, Lily Pond, and more. I love taking a walk through the gardens between gallery visits.

Gardens at the Huntington

Have you been to the Huntington? What’s your favorite part?

Written by Caroline Larson.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Caroline Larson.

A Day on Balboa Island

Last week, my mom and I drove down to California for a few days. The main reason for our trip was to go to the Adele Live Concert (more to come on that soon), but we decided to go a few days early and ended up doing some super fun stuff that we have never done before.

Some of our neighbors suggested that we spend a day on Balboa Island. I am so glad we took their advice! Maybe I am just late to the party and everyone else already knows about this gem, but in case you don’t—Balboa Island needs to be on your list of things to do next time you are in California.

Balboa Island Ferry

We stayed in Anaheim the night before going to Balboa Island (you didn’t really think I would go all the way to California without making a quick stop at Disney, did you? ;)), so it took us about an hour to get from our hotel to Newport. We drove around for a few minutes looking for parking and ended up parking at Newport Beach. It was pretty inexpensive, in a great location, and there were tons of parking spaces there.

There was a cute little boardwalk area, and we found a little cafe and ordered some crepes. I consider myself something of a crepe enthusiast, and I was delighted by how amazing these crepes were. I am not kidding when I say they may have been just as good as the crepes in Paris!

To actually get to the Island from the beach side, you have to take the ferry. It costs $1 per person each way. You can even take your car across on the ferry if you want. We left the car behind because we didn’t want to worry about parking on the Island. There is a little walkway around the Island that goes past some of the cutest beach houses I have ever seen.

Balboa Island Boardwalk--California

We walked down to the main street areas where there are shops and lots of places to eat. We didn’t stop for food (we were still full of crepes), but we did snag a world-famous balboa bar and a frozen banana. Honestly, I wish I would have bought like 4 of each! The best part is that you can choose which toppings the bar is dipped in. We got peanuts on one side and butter brickle on the other. It was to die for!

After our ice cream, we peeked in a few of the shops. We were expecting the shops to be pricy, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that they weren’t. A bunch of the stores sell everything for under $18! We found some awesome deals!

My absolute favorite store was called Olive Oil & Beyond. Sadly, no photography was allowed inside!😦 BUT let me just tell you that it was incredible! There were probably about 30 different kinds of olive oil and balsamic vinegars. He picked out a few of the balsamic vinegars for us to try (raspberry, coconut, pineapple, and chocolate). I had no idea balsamic vinegar could taste so good. I kid you not, I could drink a whole cup of it.

Olive Oil & Beyond--Balboa Island--California

The owner of the shop was adorable. He told us all about their products – they manufacture everything themselves in Italy and then import it here to the US. I was super happy when he told us that he has a store in Park City!

After we finished our shopping, we hopped back on the ferry and spent the afternoon at the beach. It had been a long time since I was last at Newport Beach. It was a perfect 82 degrees and we loved sleeping and reading on the sand. The waves were huge the day we were mesmerized just watching them crash.

Newport Beach--California

I absolutely can’t wait till our next trip!

Written by Kaycie Jordan.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Kaycie Jordan.